ESM Digital's Higher Ed Marketing Blog

To Know Them is to Love Them: Your Students

Do You Know Your Students? I mean really know your students down to the very core of who they are and why they chose your school over all the others they could have attended? If you do, that’s fantastic! If you don’t, it’s time to create some student personas. Do it well and you’ll be reminded what makes your students great! Even better, you’ll know whom to target in your next marketing campaign to achieve the best enrollment results.

Follow these 6 steps and begin to create your student personas right now!

Collect Data: You probably already have a small mountain of data you can use to get a picture of where your students come from. Pull together data such as bounce and conversion rates, organic traffic, page and website traffic, social media leads, and referring sites. Do most of your leads come from desktops or mobile devices? The more metrics you consider, the more blanks you’ll be able to fill in regarding who your students are. Don’t forget to talk to your own admissions department. They know more about who comes through your door and decides to stay—or leave—than anyone. And the profiles they have on your existing students are a treasure trove of info. Use it!

Survey Your Students: What better way to find out who your students are than to reach out to the students themselves? An email campaign that asks a few questions about who they are and how they’re doing does more than just give you insight. It also makes your students feel like you really care about them and consider them a valuable part of your school community.

Give Your Persona a Name: Or two –not every persona is a perfect match to every program you offer. The persona you build for your welding certificate program is going to be pretty different from one fleshing out students enrolled in your nursing program. Give a name or two to your student personas, and you humanize them. They’re not just statistics and numbers; they’re people!

Identify Pain Points: This is the fun part. Get inside the heads of your imaginary students and ask some questions. Let’s say you’ve got Bruce considering welding and Keisha, who’s always wanted to be a nurse. Consider what might be standing in the way of their career dreams. Is it location, program design, money, time? What are their unique problems and what can you do to solve them?

Segment:  Bruce and Keisha are very different people so you cannot talk to them, or target them for marketing purposes, in the same way. Look for demographics, patterns, trends, and behaviors that are unique to each of your student personas. Consider where Bruce might spend time online. Does he troll YouTube looking for videos on cars? Or maybe he’s a sports guy and loves Fantasy Football. Remember, even if he’d make a great welder, he’s not only thinking of welding. He has a life. The more you understand about how he lives it, the better you’ll be able to appeal to him even before he’s ready to enroll.

Engage: Now that you understand Bruce and Keisha—you’re practically BFFs after all—you can engage with them in a way that’s authentic and informative. What are you going to say?

If you’d like to learn more about constructing student personas for your school and how to engage with them once you do, contact Effective Student Marketing today. We’ve got some great ideas. Are you ready to hear them?

~Linda